Why Our Negative Emotions Deserve Acknowledgement over Dismissal

By: Amanda Jo

When we feel anger or stress or anxiety come up, it doesn’t feel phenomenal. This is a pretty universal feeling I would say. So, it isn’t out of the norm to think that when these feelings come up, we need to get the hell away from them as soon as possible. How can I kill this anger? How can I ignore this anxiety?

But, let’s take it a little deeper.

When we try to numb ourselves to these feelings and when we try to destroy them with force, what is really happening? Are we actually numbing them and destroying them OR are we giving them more power by lack of acknowledgement?

I am someone who suffers from anxiety and PTSD, and I frequently have anxiety attacks that happen out of my control and come on with great intensity. When I try to tell myself that I am not anxious, and that I am not angry, and that I am not ashamed, those feelings tend to stick around longer. When I try to ignore my anxiety, it shows up stronger and then when it comes around again next time, I feel helpless once again.

What I have begun doing, is to visualize my anxiety like a person in my room, and watch them open a door to invite someone personified as “love” in to sit with them. I watch as they open the door to invite in “comfort” and “acceptance” and “whole-hearted vulnerability” in, and they all sit on a couch and allow each other to be. (Someone recently told me this visualization reminds them of the movie Inside Out, a powerful children’s movie about the importance of acknowledging our emotions).

This visualization may seem silly to some, but for me it works. It works because I have found a way to be able to acknowledge and accept my anxiety for what it is. It is a part of me at times, it not ALL of me, but it is a part, and by inviting in comfort and love and acceptance to be with it, it has become a much less negative part of me.

What I am saying is that instead of attempting to block out our negative emotions (anger, stress, anxiety etc.), can we soften into them? Can we see them as a part of ourselves that deserves love over hate? Can we allow ourselves to be as we are?

“I am really angry and anxious and pissed off right now about _______ , and that is ok. I choose to invite love and sweetness in with this anger and allow it all to just be rather than push it down”.

When we allow ourselves to be as we are, we flourish. When we allow ourselves to feel our anger or anxiety or stress or shame, we become more open and receptive to a wider variety of emotions and LIFE.

Can we let ourselves soften into what we feel rather than harden around it? Can we accept ourselves and our wide spectrum of emotions as they present themselves?